Freezer Meals for February

On Monday night, six of us met to assemble six dishes. I had taken a couple months off to clear out the stash of food in our deep freeze(r?), and I was excited to be back. The food for this month was also more grain-free/Paleo-friendly than previous. Score!

Granola Bars



These didn’t even make it to the freezer because I knew I wanted to bake them immediately for breakfasts and snacks this week. They are super yummy! I plan on wrapping most of them up individually and freezing them, because while Finley and I could polish these off pretty quickly, we probably shouldn’t. Also, if I make these again in the future, which I already plan on doing, I’ll use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.

Chili Chicken, Kale and Quinoa Casserole

I’m looking forward to making this one because it looked really pretty! Normally casseroles are ugly – right? This also sounds like it would be a good spring or summer dish, so maybe if it’s a winner, I’ll make another one to store in my deep freeze for after Baby is born.

Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 lb sausage, browned (I used mild ground Italian sausage)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed 
  • 16 oz spinach (frozen is fine)
  • 5 cups broth
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 2-3 slices cooked bacon (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Cook on low for 6 hours.

*Don’t include the potatoes. Keep them in your pantry until you make the soup. You also don’t need to include the broth in the bag.

Meatball and Veggie Soup

This was such a colorful bag of soup when it was finished! Check out all the veggies in it. This also could be a nice warmer weather soup. And by warmer I mean 30 degrees or higher. 

  • 32 oz bag of meatballs (don’t add to gallon ziplock bag – it won’t fit with everything else – just keep in freezer until you’re ready to make the soup)
  • 6 cups Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 16 oz spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups green peppers, diced
  • 1 cup each summer squash and zucchini, diced (store in separate smaller bag and add to soup for the last hour of cooking – this can be frozen though)
  • 64 oz tomato juice (don’t add to gallon ziplock – keep in pantry and add the day of cooking)
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 tbs dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Cook on low for 4 hours, adding the squash and zucchini in the last hour.

Sweet Garlic Chicken

I made this for dinner Wednesday night and was pleasantly surprised. Other than slow cooker chicken that is shredded, I’ve had not so good luck with whole breasts. They end up dry and blah except for the sauce on the outside. These were a smidge dry but still tasty. Next time (because I only cooked one pound) I’ll reduce the cooking time even more.

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 tbs BBQ seasoning
  • 1 tbs Garlic and Herb seasoning
  • 1 tbs Asian seasoning
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbs cornstarch 
  • 1/2 cup water

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

So ya, I disagree with the cooking time. While I did have half the amount of chicken, mine were done on low after four hours (or maybe less). Also, the sauce wasn’t very thick, so I took it out, heated it over the stove, and added a tapioca starch/water mixture to thicken it. You could use cornstarch but I didn’t have any.

Chicken Wings (no link or original source provided)

  • 2.5 lbs chicken legs and/or wings
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbs ketchup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Place (thawed, if frozen) marinated chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish and bake for one hour.

Happy cooking and eating!

Question:

Anyone out there also in a freezer meal group or make freezer meals on their own? 

Really?

I’d like to think I’m pretty tough, have a decent ability to handle pain and discomfort, and am healthy enough. While I’m prone to self-diagnose via Dr. Google, it stems from a need to know why.

This pregnant mama needs to catch a break! Here’s why.

A week and a half ago, I had a bad sore throat that turned into a sinus infection. Last Wednesday, there was so much pressure behind my face that my eyes were red, puffy and watery. I was prescribed amoxicillin and aside from some lingering phelgm, it’s gone. 

Tuesday night of this week, I came home and idiotically shut my right thumb in the car door. Ouch! It turned blackish blue in less than ten minutes and throbbed constantly. Sleep was not very restful Tuesday night despite Tylenol and ice. 

I read online that sometimes a small hole will be drilled in a bruised nail to let the blood out and relieve the pressure, so I called my doctor’s office. After speaking to a nurse, she scheduled an appointment with my doctor. My doctor said the bruising didn’t cover enough of the nail bed to warrant drilling a hole in it (not sure if I was relieved or not about that) and that I could take ibuprofen. Apparently this pain reliever only really needs to be avoided during the third trimester of pregnancy, or at least that’s what she told me. At home, I found a bottle of aspirin – thinking it was the same as ibuprofen – and took three doses throughout the remainder of the day.

My thumb started to feel much better Wednesday late afternoon and did not affect my sleep. However, an itchy body did affect my sleep.

I woke up this morning to a body covered in hives. For real. Dr. Google stated I could take Benadryl, and luckily we had liquigels in the medicine cabinet, but I just noticed they expired in 2013. Awesome. Anyways, Brody suggested I still call my doctor to let her know what was happening. I’m 99% positive I’ve taken aspirin before, and that’s the only thing I can think of that was different yesterday. Before the itching really started during the night, I did notice my hands were itchy, but I chalked it up to their dryness. 

*Update: My doctor thinks I’m having an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin I’m on for the sinus infection. I’ve been instructed to stop taking it. 

And the cherry on top? My backs of my legs look like someone beat me up due to the varicose veins and spider veins, and the constant dull ache and pressure “down there” from my special veins create a very ugly and uncomfortable situation. My fingers and legs are crossed that all of the veins go back to normal after I give birth. 

Basically my body is a war zone and is failing me. Dramatic much? 

You can thank me for sparing you photos of my aforementioned ailments.

Today Thus Far

Today has went like this: 

-an early morning wakeup call (5:50am, and Finley has been on a cherry juice strike – coincidence?) 

-a trip to Woodmans for groceries for the week, including a huge vat of strawberries in the clearance section for 99 cents 

-a denied entrance to Play N Learn (a free play group funded by United Way) because we were five minutes late and they were already at capacity 

-an impromptu play date with Finley’s friend Noah and my friend Amber at their house 

-two phone conversations with nurses regarding sore throats and coughs (Finley and I are both under the weather) 

-a delicious lunch of salad with leftover crispy chicken and a small bowl of loaded baked potato soup from Costco 

-a short walk with the dogs while Finley napped

-the discovery on said walk that water was streaming out of a spigot on the side of our house

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-a visit from the company who winterized our sprinkler system, who realized the valve wasn’t turned off (or was turned back on) 

-a sleeping toddler on my chest (she’s been sleeping another 30-60 minutes after she wakes up from her nap if we hold her…which we won’t be able to do for much longer so I’m enjoying the snuggles)

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How’s your day going?

Meal Plan for Sunday, Feb. 8 – Saturday, Feb. 14

I’m posting this on an odd, likely non-shopping day for most folks, but you may always be looking for new recipes. I bookmark mine and go through them when I meal plan.

Also, this post was mostly done on Sunday, but I forgot to finish it and add the links. If you’re anything like me, though, mid-week you realize you’ve forgotten something you need for the week (truth #1) or run out of milk (truth #2).

Sunday: pineapple cashew fried rice

Monday (Brody’s birthday!!!): pork burgers and roasted cauliflower

Tuesday: kielbasa (roasted garlic kind from Costco) and roasted potatoes

Wednesday: oven baked chicken fajitas

Thursday: sloppy Josephines (like sloppy joes but with some veggies snuck in)

Friday: Asian-style ground pork in lettuce cups

Saturday: steak and potato salad

*These last three meals are recipes I’m testing for a friend writing a cookbook geared towards feeding toddlers healthy, good food. How cool is that!

My meals are also interchangeable throughout the week (as long as the meat is thawed or can thaw quickly). I’ll ask Brody what he’s in the mood for based on the options; sometimes he has an opinion and sometimes he doesn’t. If possible, I’ll do some or all prep during Finley’s afternoon nap since 5-6pm can still be somewhat of a witching hour for her.

Let me know if you try any of these!

Helping Finley Sleep: Tart Cherry Juice

For a couple months now, Finley has been waking up before 6am more often. She’s also been unhappy and crabby more often in the morning.

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One particularly difficult morning (she wanted her paci which we now only give her for sleeping or in the car)

While I can handle the early mornings, I want her to be in a good mood, and it got me wondering if she wasn’t getting enough sleep at night.

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One crabby morning made better by eating my breakfast

Since she was only a handful of months old, her bedtime has been around 7pm. Her wakeup time doesn’t seem to be affected greatly by her bedtime. We’ve had nights where she’s went down closer to 8pm or after, and she’s still up around 6am. We’ve also taken into consideration the temperature and darkness of her room, her pajamas, hunger, etc.

A while ago, I read Mama Natural’s blog post about giving her son tart cherry juice. In the study she sites, adults consumed tart cherry juice for seven days, and both the quality and duration of their sleep improved. Mama Natural experienced these same positive results with her son.

So I thought, why not?

I bought tart cherry juice, kefir, and coconut water at Woodmans and crossed my fingers.

Most days, I would estimate Finley is only taking in 1 ounce total. After experimenting with various mix-ins, she has liked it with cherry and blueberry kefir the most. Sometimes I’ll add a little whole milk to cut down on the sweetness and sugar. She doesn’t like it with water, coconut water, straight milk, or vanilla kefir. I give her a sippy cup of it right away in the morning, before her nap, after her nap, and right before bed. She rarely drinks a lot at once, so that’s why I give it to her so often.

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Finley taking a longer than normal nap

When we first started this experiment, she began sleeping in an extra thirty minutes in the morning. For about a week, she never woke up before 6:15am. Then I ran out of the cherry kefir and tried the other mix-ins. She refused the juice for a few days and had early and grumpy mornings again. I then bought the blueberry kefir, she started drinking the juice again, and she began waking up a little later and in a happier disposition.

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Sleeping like a rock star

Maybe it’s all coincidence. Timing. The placebo effect. Whatever it is, it seems to be working.

Meal Plan for Saturday, January 31 – Thursday, Feb. 5

Happy Sunday!

I did my meal planning on Saturday morning because I knew I’d have the opportunity to grocery shop alone during Finley’s nap. Brody’s dad is visiting from Switzerland, so while he and Brody watched a documentary about The Basement Tapes (amazing by the way!), I drove to Copps in Middleton.

I prefer to do my grocery shopping at Woodmans, but I knew it would be busy and I didn’t feel like driving into Sun Prairie for the fifth time in a week. One benefit of this store is there’s a Starbucks in the same strip mall area, so I picked up a decaf Americano with a few pumps of skinny mocha.

This week’s meals are nothing spectacular and include lots of leftover nights because Brody will be gone skiing and my mom will be visiting. This was a chance to make a couple things Brody doesn’t love or won’t eat that I will enjoy and make for good leftovers.

Saturday: carry out from Salvatore’s (we had the Forestiere and Forza)
*Brody’s dad loves their pizza like we do, so we knew we’d have it one night he was here. We picked it up after taking Finley ice skating for the first time.

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Sunday: Ohio Farmhouse Sausage Chili (from The Joy of Cooking), cornbread, and side salad

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Monday: leftovers and/or something from the freezer

Tuesday: Emily’s sloppy joes on baked potatoes

Wednesday: The Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: leftovers

Are you watching the Super Bowl? We will be, although I may be hitting up a prenatal yoga class from 4:30-5:30pm. Then I’ll come home to watch football, chase Finley around and eat yummy food.

Pregnancy Update: 22 weeks with Baby #2

Hi! Happy Tuesday afternoon!

I’m blogging again – crazy. Let’s talk about pregnancy. I doubt I’ll do pregnancy updates as often as I did with my first, but here’s at least one to get things started.

How far along? Almost 22 weeks

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*picture from about a week ago

Gender? Girl!

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Baby’s size? Spaghetti squash (11 inches, almost 1 pound).

Weight gain? 11 lbs. This is more than I had gained at this point with Finley but I was about five pounds less starting out than I was pre-pregnancy with Finley. So whatever.

Belly button in or out? Kind of out already.

Wedding rings on or off? On. I had forgotten I took them off at night during my first pregnancy.

Sleep? Good. I go to sleep around 9:30pm, wake up twice to use the bathroom around 11pm and 3am, and I’m up for the day around 6am.

Best moment(s) of the week? Family trip to Chicago! Brody took Friday off and we drove down Thursday night. On Friday morning, we had breakfast at The Bongo Room and spent two and a half hours at the Shedd Aquarium.

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Miss anything? Stomach sleeping.

Looking forward to? Brody’s dad is visiting and staying with us this weekend. We’re excited for him to spend a lot of time with Finley. On the baby front, we looking at decor for her room, so that’s fun.

Movement? I’ve been feeling movement inside for a few weeks, and recently, movement with my hand on the belly.

Food cravings? A few weeks back, I was into Raisin Bran, but otherwise, not much. I have been loving oranges but I wouldn’t say it’s a craving.

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Anything making you sick or queasy? As with my first pregnancy, whole chicken breasts gross me out.

Exercise? Meh. I try to get to the gym twice a week, whether that’s for a kickboxing class or a session on the elliptical. I did attend a prenatal yoga class at Dragonfly in Middleton with my other pregnant friend, Mel. I bought a ten class package, so that’ll be good for me.

Symptoms? The varicose veins (on legs and elsewhere) are baaaaack. Yuck. They’re so much worse than last time. I got fitted for compression leggings but haven’t been good about wearing them. The waistband hits at an awkward spot and either gives me ridiculous muffin top or two pregnant bellies. I spoke to my doctor about options if these don’t go away after giving birth. They did with Finley, so fingers crossed they will disappear again…immediately.

Labor signs? Nope.

Have a good day!

Meal Plan 1/11/15-1/17/15

Brody and I have let our preferred way of eating slide over the last couple months. We both felt great sticking to a mainly grain-free diet, and as I mentioned, Brody dropped a significant amount of weight.

Then I got pregnant. All I wanted to eat for the month of October was carbs. Tortilla chips (GF, but still). Bagels with cream cheese. Bread. Cereal. I went to town. I felt nauseated almost every day for a month, and the thought of food, especially meat, would make me want to hurl (which I never did, thank goodness). I could barely meal plan. I’d go to Costco and come home with Aussie bites (which Finley ate most of), mozzarella sticks, fish sticks, pre-made Caesar salad and tomato basil soup.

My grain-loving self then rubbed off on Brody, and he found himself “cheating” more.

The last straw was the holidays. There’s no avoiding all the sugar, carbs and booze (unless you have an allergy and/or are pregnant).

Now that life has returned to normal and my appetite is back, Brody and I are trying to get back on track. Much of this falls on me since I’m the one who grocery shops and meal plans. While pregnant, though, I’m still going to keep some grains in my diet. They do not cause me discomfort, I’m not looking to lose weight, and they make me happy.

Lunches (for me): beef and barley soup
*I used the broth, which had been in our deep freezer, I made from the leftover rib roasts from Christmas.

Sunday: Calzones (from Brittany Angel’s book, Every Last Crumb)

Monday: Steak stir fry

Tuesday: Crock Pot ginger chicken (a freezer meal) and roasted broccoli

Wednesday: Smoked kielbasa (from Costco) and roasted potatoes

Thursday: Pork Szechuan stir fry

Friday: Wing it/order takeout

Saturday: Dinner at The Immigrant Room at The American Club in Kohler!!!

Sorry I don’t have many actual recipes this week, as this was kind of a “clean out the freezer” week. Next week maybe I’ll be more adventurous and interesting.

Christmas 2014

We bought the house we did because we wanted to be able to host our families and give as many people beds as possible. This Christmas was the first go at that, and I’d say it went splendidly!

I’ll avoid a detailed recap and just share pictures (which are mostly of Finley) with some captions/explanations.

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We watched Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol on Wednesday.

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Brody ordered matching pajamas. We modeled them for the rest of our family Christmas Eve after Finley had gone to sleep. Nothing says “the holidays” like footie Christmas jammies and booze (for Brody, not me obv).

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Finley ate the rest of the cookies left behind by Santa Christmas morning. She had a lot of sugar that day.

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We did manage to take a sleepy-eyed family shot.

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Here’s a good view of our tree and Finley’s new kitchen, a gift from her grandpa.

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The tea set from Grandma Lee was a hit.

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Breaks from gift opening were needed Christmas morning, mainly to eat Sara Lee coffee cake and drink coffee.

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We helped Finley get started on the unwrapping, but once a corner was torn, she did a pretty good job finishing up.

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Finley had lots of gifts to open, including a ton of books.

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We saved a few presents for Finley to open once Grandma Chris, Aunt Laura and future Uncle Ben arrived.

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Grandma Lee reading a new book to Finley.

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Uncle Dan was a trooper and put up with a lot of estrogen during their visit.

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This is how we managed to prevent a meltdown during Christmas dinner. She loves the episode Mickey Mouse Saves Santa.

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The holidays were exhausting for Moose as well.

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Finley and her Aunt Erin made a delicious eggnog loaf the day after Christmas.

Thanks to my sister and SIL for taking some of the photos above (which I stole off of Facebook).

I hope everyone had a happy holiday! Now is it just me or is it time for all these decorations to come down? 😄